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Green drive on blue waters — solar power lights up naval vessel

February 12, 2017 02:31 am | Updated 02:32 am IST - Kochi:

Way to go: Solar panels installed atop the helicopter hangar of the naval ship INS Sarvekshak.

Way to go: Solar panels installed atop the helicopter hangar of the naval ship INS Sarvekshak.

In a first, a warship of the Navy has turned to the sun to generate a share of its on-board power.

Naval survey vessel INS Sarvekshak, based at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, has innovatively deployed the zero-maintenance solar power system, capable of generating 5.4KW electricity, by customising and installing ‘razor-thin, flexible’ solar panels on the canopy of its telescopic (retractable) helicopter deck. This replaces the ship’s traditional 4.4KW emergency diesel alternator, thereby slashing a yearly carbon emission of 60,225 kg and saving 22,995 litres of diesel for the Navy.

Low cost system

The project, taken up by the ship’s electrical wing headed by Commander Sreejith Tampi as part of an innovation drive, cost about ₹19 lakh, which is recoverable in under three years, Captain Rajesh Bargoti, commanding officer of the ship said.

“Rigid, glass-topped solar panels are unsuitable in the humid, salty marine environment, as they cannot withstand high wind speeds. They were found to be unfit for fitment on ships and they needed to be stationary for the sensors to receive sunlight. Conventional, fume-emitting batteries posed a further challenge, as they are not advisable over turbulent seas,” Capt. Bargoti explained to The Hindu on-board the survey ship on Saturday.

Given these constraints, the team then decided on the ‘light weight, extra-thin and flexible panels that would not break’.

“Imported from the U.S. through a local vendor, these panels have a maintenance free life for 24 years while the no-fume solid electrolyte batteries have a guaranteed life of 20 years. The ship is 15 years old and we hope the system stays through the vessel’s service life,” Capt. Bargoti said.

Once the panels got shipped in, trials yielded positive results and green signal was received from the headquarters to fix them over a 54-sq m area on the hangar canopy.

The industrial grade panels are found to be performing well in all-light conditions and are shade-tolerant.

The system is expected to save ₹8.98 lakh used to run the vessel’s emergency diesel alternator.

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